Staunton, October 11 – Three sociologists at Aleksey Kudrin’s Center for Civic Initiatives which accurately predicted the massive demonstrations of 2011 say that three major shifts in public opinion now – a readiness for change, demands for social justice, and increased self-reliance, make conditions ripe for a repetition of such protests.
The three, Mikhail Dmitriyev, Sergey Belanovsky, and Anastasiya Nikolskaya, released a 44-page report this week making that argument. Their research was completed before protests about the pension reform occurred, and they say that may prove to be a major catalyst for protest (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_Lt_rqU1LqmCFq2OwDTHnFGl205JDeFmVRISEgn6ydc/edit).
Belanovsky, one of the authors, told RBK that “there is a high probability of political destabilization in Russia but not one similar to the scenario of the Ukrainian Maidan … the chief preconditions for radical political changes in Russia are becoming economic problems and the reduction of social benefits and the growing dissatisfaction of regional elites with the policy of the federal center” (rbc.ru/politics/11/10/2018/5bbe24df9a7947bbe67b0cf2).
Perhaps the greatest risk, he continued, is the appearance of “a chain of local protests” over various things. “If the number of such cases exceeds a critical mass of ten to twenty simultaneously, then there are risks that the federal authorities will not be able to cope with the situation.”
The report also points to an intensification of “’counter-elite populist attitudes.’” Until June 2018, ratings of the top leadership varied within narrow limits what has been called the post-Crimea accord between the powers and the people, but after that, with the announcement on pension age changes, “many of these [ratings] began to change sharply.”
According to the analysts who compiled the report, their research “caught the Russian population at a moment when latent changes in public consciousness achieved a kind of critical mass.” But despite that apparently ominous warning, the authors say that they cannot say whether the changes in attitude will provoke demonstrations at all.